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Reality Shows Still Dominating the Summer Program Rankings

There are a record number of scripted programs on television this summer, but young adults by and large are choosing their reality-show favorites instead.

In a week that saw the return of “Big Brother” (pictured), nine of the week’s top 10 original series telecasts in adults 18-49 were reality shows, with only HBO’s “True Blood” sneaking in. Cracking the top 20, though, were Fox’s “24: Live Another Day,” Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” and VH1’s “Hit the Floor.”

The same-night ratings bar has been lowered again this summer for scripted programming, as viewers have ever-more options and platforms to watch programs. The top scripted newcomer remains NBC’s “The Night Shift,” which on Monday was renewed for a second season, while TNT’s “The Last Ship” is the best-looking cable rookie, declining only slightly in its second week.

Overall last week, it was a very tight race for the adults 18-49 primetime lead, with NBC (1.1 rating) edging ahead of its rivals (ABC, CBS and Fox all did a 1.0). CBS showed its first pulse of summer thanks to “Big Brother,” pulling ahead in adults 25-54 while also winning in total viewers.

BET’s telecast of the “BET Awards” on Sunday was the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49 (3.1 rating/10 share), down slightly from last year’s 3.3, and ranked fifth in total viewers (7.50 million)

“Big Brother” kicked off its 16th edition with a two-night premiere Wednesday (2.3/9 in 18-49, 6.71 million viewers overall) and Thursday (2.3/8 in 18-49, 6.56 million), with the shows tying for the No. 2 spot in 18-49. NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which has been on top other weeks this summer, aired a repeat on Tuesday but still placed fifth in 18-49 (1.9/6) and fourth in total viewers (7.93 million).

CBS was unable to take advantage of “Big Brother” on Sunday, as “Reckless” was weak out of the gate (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.99 million viewers overall). ABC fared better on Thursday with the second season of medical doc series “NY Med” (0.9/3 in  18-49, 5.62 million viewers overall), holding or besting its “Rookie Blue” lead-in in various categories and delivering more total viewers than all but one of its episodes when it first aired in 2012.

Doing OK in its series debut on Wednesday was NBC drama “Taxi Brooklyn” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 5.34 million viewers overall).

Cable’s top series for the week was VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 3.83m), which beat all broadcast competition in its Monday timeslot.

Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.14 million viewers overall) was cable’s No. 1 Tuesday series in 18-49 for a 10th straight week, and stood as No. 1 on all of television for the night in men 25-54 (2.0/6).

At TNT, “Major Crimes” was up (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.91 million viewers overall), but lead-out “Murder in the First” continued to fall (0.4/1 in 18-49, 2.65 million viewers overall). And Sunday’s “The Last Ship” held up (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.65 million viewers overall), down just a tick in its second week, but “Falling Skies” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.96 million viewers overall) took a tumble behind it.

The week’s top cable scripted originals were Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” (1.3/5 in 18-49, 5.16 million viewers overall), which aired on Friday following original movie “Zapped” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 5.67 million viewers overall), and VH1’s “Hit the Floor” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.45 million viewers overall), which followed “Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta” on Monday.

At A&E, “Duck Dynasty” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.41 million viewers overall) declined further and was surpassed in total viewers on the network for the week by “Longmire” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.51 million viewers overall) — even though the latter Western drew just half of “Duck’s” demo rating.

HBO’s “True Blood” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.06 million viewers overall) fell sharply from its week-earlier season premiere, and was followed by an OK tune-in for the premiere of “The Leftovers” (1.77 million).

Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” ended its first season with 856,000 viewers, while “Nurse Jackie” drew 674,000 and “Californication” ended its run with 481,000.


Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
UNI              1.1/4
NBC             1.1/4
ABC              1.0/4
CBS               1.0/4
Fox               1.0/3
TEL             0.6/2
CW              0.2/1

Total Viewers
CBS             5.34 million
NBC            4.36 million
ABC            4.25 million
Fox             2.98 million
UNI            2.83 million
TEL             1.43 million
CW              1.09 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  BET Awards (BET), 3.1/11
2.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.3/9
2.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 2.3/8
4.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 2.0/7
5.  America’s Got Talent-r (NBC), 1.9/6
6.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 1.8/6
7.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.7/7
7.  Hell’s Kitchen (Fox), 1.7/7
7.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.7/6
7.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.7/5
11.  True Blood (HBO)*, 1.6/5
12.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 1.5/5
13.  20/20 (ABC), 1.4/5
13.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), 1.4/5
13.  24: Live Another Day (Fox), 1.4/4
13.  WWE Raw (USA), 1.4/4
17.  America’s Got Talent, Wednesday-r (NBC), 1.3/5
17.  Boy Meets World (Disney), 1.3/5
17.  What Would You Do? (ABC), 1.3/5
17.  Celebrity Wife Swap (ABC), 1.3/4
17.  Criminal Minds-r (CBS), 1.3/4
17.  Hit the Floor (VH1), 1.3/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NCIS-r (CBS), 8.80
2.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.53
3.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 8.02
4.  America’s Got Talent, Tuesday-r (NBC), 7.93
5.  BET Awards (BET), 7.50
6.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 6.93
7.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 6.71
8.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 6.56
9.  20/20 (ABC), 6.39
10.  Blue Bloods-r (CBS), 6.34
11.  Unforgettable (CBS), 6.22
12.  America’s Got Talent, Wednesday-r (NBC), 6.15
13.  Criminal Minds-r (CBS), 6.12
14.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 6.05
15.  The Night Shift (NBC), 5.92
16.  24: Live Another Day (Fox), 5.71
17.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 5.68
18.  Movie: Zapped (Disney), 5.67
19.  NY Med (ABC), 5.62
20.  Rizzoli & Isles (TNT), 5.50

Source: Nielsen (English-language programs only)

*not supported by advertising

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